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  • Writer's pictureBen Aubuchon

Aubuchon Company to Introduce Self Checkout

Students in the 2022 Retail Management Certification Program, offered by the North American Hardware and Paint Association, were tasked with undertaking a significant business improvement project during the semester to learn the basics of project management and provide value to the business in an applied learning, semester-long assignment. While the project did not have to be completed in the time frame of the course, students needed to make major headway toward project completion to earn the course certificate. The course is in partnership with Butler University and Ball State as well as many other presenters from industry consulting firms to former students including Josiah Gates, Executive Vice President of Retail at the Aubuchon Company.

Neal DeLowery, Store Projects & Merchandising Manager at the Aubuchon Company, was awarded the Best in Class Business Improvement Project! Neal’s vision was to develop, test and execute multiple versions of customer driven checkouts to create a dynamic shopping experience of convenience, choice, safety, and speed. The objective of DeLowery’s project was to release payroll dollars from an unassisted customer task, which in this case is ringing the register, and reallocate these hours to various tasks throughout the company.

“Once the customer has arrived at the checkout, we are no longer adding value to the basket and the transaction has simply become a cost point of operations. By providing a dual checkout option, we can offer the consumer the choice they desire while still delivering world class customer service outside of, and at the point of purchase.” said DeLowery

Pictured is a conference room full of people watching a presentation. The presentation is being given by a well dressed young man who is pointing at a slide on his power point slide deck. The man presenting, named Neal DeLowery, was awarded best in class business improvement project.
Neal DeLowery presenting his NHPA Retail Management Certification Program project.

“By reallocating about 20% of our payroll spent as transactional time, we expect to see a return on investment in just under a year following execution.”

However, innovation does not come without risk. Self checkouts come with an increased potential for consumer generated shrink through accidental or purposeful shoplifting. This is not a maybe, but a certainty, it is well documented that more shrink occurs at self checkouts than at cashier driven checkouts. DeLowery is well aware of this “Although around 80% of this shrink is unintentional, we will need to develop training and policies around handling these scenarios.”

"The RMCP course has been a whirlwind tour through leadership training at a level above and beyond what we could achieve solely in our own environments. The group of industry leaders, peers and educators that we had the opportunity to learn from, and interact with will propel each participant's business forward for years to come. Listening to the challenges and opportunities of like minded peers from across the country has been an experience that all of us can benefit from in our respective roles." said DeLowery while reflecting on his experience.

The design and build of the first hardware cabinet self checkout register prototype.
The design and build of the first hardware cabinet prototype.

The design and build of our first self checkout prototype has already been completed. These will be piloted in our higher volume locations that have the space to displace a register or have room to install an additional one. We plan to implement the first in store self checkout by the end of 2023!

“As the costs of doing business rise, we need to be relentless about pursuing efficiencies and

productivity. Self checkout is just one piece of the puzzle.” said DeLowery. Shifting our focus back to the customer before they reach the point of sale will strengthen our goal to always offer world class customer service.

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